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What does Facebook know about you? Find it out here

Updated on April 2, 2018
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Besides writing, Prachi is also into choreography and web development. She currently speaks Hindi, English, Spanish and a little French.

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Having more than two billion monthly active users, Facebook has information of almost one third of the world’s population. Whether you are using the social media (as many other billion people are doing) on a daily basis or only log in sometimes, you must be aware of the amount of personal data that you have shared with the site and in what manner, it is being processed.

The main reason to collect data from you is to use it as information by Facebook to show you the relevant advertising. Most of the users may not find this appealing, while many others are satisfied with the ads, since they get to see the products along with the price tags. Overall, whatever you assume about the process of this personal data collection, you have the right to know about everything that the company is learning about you and how you can keep an eye on that flow of information. With the below mentioned tips, you can get an idea on how to maintain the privacy of your personal data.
On the other hand, if you do not want your data to be used in any manner, then it is better to get rid of the social media by deleting your account.

Have you ever worried about your online privacy on Facebook?

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Check the advertising preferences

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At first, when you have just started with Facebook, you usually start with the most basic information that includes your name, date of birth and email address. Then, the site suggests you to fill up the information regarding your education, location, work history and friends and relatives, who are on Facebook. In this way, your information is under complete observation by the tech giant, who has got to know a lot about you till now.

The quick and easy way to know what information is gathered by Facebook and limiting its accessibility is through restricting the information accessed by ads which can be done the ads preference page. Follow the below steps:

  • Log into your account.
  • Click on the down arrow at the rightmost corner of the navigation bar.
  • From the drop down list, select Setting and then click on Ads.

The page will provide you with all the information that is being shared with the tech company. Here, you can modify the details that you do not wish to share with the advertisers.
Modifying these details does not delete them from your profile. It will only block those ads that target you because of this information.

Moreover, if the tech company is not sharing your personal data with the advertisers, then it does not mean the company is not collecting it. It means your data is always processed and collected by Facebook at every instance, which help them to fix bugs and improve their social network. To prevent this sharing, it is recommended to delete the information by editing your profile. You can unlike pages, leave groups or delete education and work history.

Search with third-party services

It is not possible to find every minute detail that Facebook has of you. There are various secret and highly encrypted algorithms that can make nearly close assumptions on the basis of your profile and what all you do online. This is not a black box as it seems to be. There are some third party services that you can avail to know your hidden information.

  • Data Selfie is a secure Chrome extension that can help you track your Facebook activity and let you know about what information of yours is being interpreted by Facebook and in what manner. Though the extension is helpful, it is limited to only showing theoretical analysis rather than delivering the accurate real statistics.
  • To get better practical results of your account, you must look for Stalkscan. It can give a detailed online activity of your Facebook account such as which hotels and bars, you last checked in and photos of you and what sorts of music and movies are liked by you.
  • Intel Techniques Search Tool (as shown in image) is another such website where you can run related searches. Here, click on the Facebook icon, present on the left side of the page, then enter your profile link. It will show your online activities along with the relevant Facebook URLs.

On the downside, these services are only good enough to give you just a glimpse of how the data can be collected by Facebook. For example, Facebook delivers you a filtered News Feed on the basis of your past activities and interactions with different posts and people. The algorithm that helps it to do so is not easy to know about. Additionally, the social network also considers assumptions about the users and divides them into different categories, which can be, then, targeted by the advertisers.
Once, there was a report published in the Washington Post in the year 2017 that talked about various different data points (almost 98 in numbers). These data points are used by Facebook to associate with your information to know more about you. The data is not fetched from your profile, but rather from other companies such as from when you bought your first car and what kind of payment method you used.

Disable location and web tracking

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Besides the information that you are sharing through your profile and your manner of interaction on the social network (such as liking, commenting, sharing), Facebook also keeps a check on your Geo location as well as what activities you perform online on other sites.
When you log into your account through the app, an alert generates that ask you to turn on your location, if you have not already. It eases your job by enabling you to add check-in places and helping you to look for nearby interesting places to visit. It even facilitates you to look for nearby friends. Such information helps Facebook to show you more precise ads.
If it sounds uncomfortable, then it is better to turn off your location or you can also choose to deny the location permission to this app. Even if you do, Facebook still has access to your location by pointing out your tagged photos along with the location.
There is a simple reason behind this information gathering is to provide you with the improved advertisements. Facebook also receives notifications about what kind of web pages you are visiting. To prevent this extended accessibility, you can filter the shared information using Ad settings in your account.

Facebook has taken some measurements to explain in a better manner on how they collect the user data. But, it is still not easy to get access to all of your shared information. This is something you can never know as you are adhering to the site's terms and conditions at the time of signing up. The best thing you can do is to give limited information and response to the feed.
Last, but not the least, it is recommended to use only trusted apps and games on Facebook and share your details with them.

After Cambridge Analytica Scam, do you think Facebook is safe to use?

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Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower who sparked the news of Facebook data scam

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